From Iran’s perspective, negotiations can be viewed as follows:
Best Case: The negotiations are successful. Iran is able to convince the West to reduce or remove sanctions in return for a limited dismantling of its nuclear program. It will continue to clandestinely inch towards a nuclear weapon, waiting for the right strategic moment to make the final jump, all while enjoying a large economic benefit from the lack of sanctions.
Worst Case: The negotiations fail. Sanctions are increased and Iran dashes for a nuclear weapon. However, Iran is now closer to developing a nuclear weapon than it was when the negotiations started. Through prolonged negotiations, it was able to stave off increased sanctions until the last possible second.
In summary, even if Iran’s true motive is to acquire a nuclear weapon, it is still in Iran’s best interest to come to the negotiating table. Regardless of whether or not negotiations are successful, the negotiations themselves benefit their long-term goal of acquiring a nuclear weapon.
Currently, Iran is only a few weeks away from possessing enough enriched uranium at a high enough level to be able to build a nuclear weapon. US officials admit that Iran has now overcome too many technical hurdles and advanced their program too far to be able to return to the JCPOA. Even if an agreement is reached, Iran’s breakout time would now remain substantially less than a year. The only viable nuclear deal with Iran is one that permanently removes their nuclear enrichment capabilities. Short of this, all other agreements benefit Iran’s long-term interests more than they do the United States. Here are some key aspects that would help ensure long-term success:
* Additional Note: A deal should include all nefarious activity, not just Iran’s nuclear program. Activity such as Iran’s illegal arms shipments, financial support to terrorism, assassinations, seizures of civilian tankers and proxy attacks on US and allied troops should all be included in an agreement. There should be an understanding that sanctions would snap back if this type of nefarious activity from Iran did not immediately stop. Providing sanction relief to Iran without coming to an agreement on these larger issues enables and incentives Iran to continue its asymmetrical military campaign against our assets and allies in the region.
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